A project initiated 22 years ago is finally getting some traction again, as Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell and the Bureau of Engineering announced a community meeting to unveil the design and shared use proposal for a bikeway and pedestrian bridge over the Los Angeles River at Taylor Yard, connecting the neighborhoods of Cypress Park and Elysian Valley. The meeting will take place this Tuesday, January 14, 6 p.m. at the Elysian Valley Recreation Center.
"I am thrilled that the Taylor Yard Bridge project will take shape during my watch as the representative of the 13th District," said Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell in a statement. He chairs the City's Arts, Parks, Health, Aging, and Los Angeles River committee. "This new bicycle and pedestrian access across the Los Angeles River is more than two decades in the making and will better connect neighborhoods on both sides of the waterway."
The project found momentum January last year when the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) approved spending $1 million for the design of the bridge, which would make commutes between the two communities, especially for Elysian Valley students that attend the Sotomayor Learning Academies, much easier. The agreement, however, does not commit the Metro to any further funding to actually build the bridge.
Based on the Metro's Board item notes, the bridge would cross the river approximately at Dorris Place on the west to the southwest portion of the Rio de los Angeles State Park. It's meant to connect the bike path at San Fernando Road to the Los Angeles River bikeway.
The 17-foot wide bridge would feature a 400-foot shared-use path, split between cyclists and pedestrians, that links the existing Taylor Yard access road to the western bank of the river. A new at-grade crossing and crossing barrier between the Taylor Yard service road and the proposed bridge will be constructed, as well as a recycled pipeline. The estimated cost to construct the bridge is $5.3 million, according to O'Farrell's office.
Since 1992, the project has been in the city's books, when the Metrolink Maintenance Facility was just gearing up for construction and somehow dodged public review. The community expressed its opposition by filing a lawsuit, which resulted in Los Angeles County Transportation Authority (now Metro) funding mitigations on the project.
According to a 1993 Los Angeles Times report, rather than go to court, former Councilman Mike Hernandez and transportation officials had agreed on "a greenbelt around the property and $350,000 for a public arts program, $2 million for an access bridge across the river, and $250,000 for workshops that enabled residents to give input into the planning process."
A 2007 city council motion by former Councilman Ed Reyes however states that only the finished access road and community meetings have been implemented. He writes, "to date, Metro has not met its obligations under the agreement. Metro has failed to provide a bridge from Taylor Yard to Elysian Valley -- this is the 'public access across the river' referenced throughout the agreement."
Reyes' motion goes on to note that due to increased costs of construction, the Metro asked Los Angeles to apply to Metro's call for projects for additional funds, "even though the bridge is solely Metro's mitigation responsibility. Although the City reluctantly applied on condition of no local match requirement, Metro insisted the City provide a local match."
Based on the Metro's notes, the city did assume management of the project in November 2000, but their failure to clarify Union Pacific railroad right of way resulted in the Metro's fund provision lapsing. With this new $$1,073,00 fund from Metro, and an additional $$327,00 matching fund from the city, this bridge may finally get a few steps closer to reality.
Air your thoughts on the design for the Taylor Yard Bridge, this Tuesday, January 14, 6-7 p.m. at the Elysian Valley Recreation Center, 1811 Ripple Street, Los Angeles.